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Why is the “Green Card” green, and what’s the story behind it?

The Green Card: A Gateway to Opportunities in the United States

The Green Card, formally known as the United States Permanent Resident Card, is a crucial document for foreigners seeking to live and work permanently in the United States. Its popular designation, “Green Card,” derives from the predominant color of the document. However, the history behind the Green Card dates back several decades and is rooted in the evolution of immigration policies in the United States.

The Beginning: Early Steps of the Green Card

The concept of a permanent resident document in the United States dates back to the late 19th century, but the first formal system was implemented by the Immigration Act of 1924. Before that, immigration to the United States was largely unregulated. However, with the increase in immigration, there arose a need to control and restrict the entry of foreigners.

Colors and Evolution

The Green Card did not start as green. Initially, the document was white and contained basic information about the holder, such as name, date of birth, and country of origin. The shift to the green color occurred in 1946 when the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) introduced a new design to improve visibility and facilitate the identification of cardholders.

The choice of the color green was not arbitrary. It is believed that green was chosen for being a neutral color, easy to distinguish, and contrasting with other identification documents. Moreover, green is symbolic, representing the hope and opportunity that the United States offers to immigrants seeking a better life.

Changes and Updates

Over the years, the Green Card has undergone various changes in terms of design, technology, and security. In 1989, the United States government introduced a new design to include enhanced security features such as holograms and special inks. These measures aimed to reduce counterfeiting and ensure the integrity of the immigration process.

Green Card Acquisition Process

Obtaining a Green Card is a complex process involving various categories, such as employment, family, refugees, and asylum. Applicants typically undergo extensive background checks, interviews, and administrative processes before being granted permanent resident status.

Beyond the Green Color

Although the Green Card is often associated with its distinctive color, its true significance goes far beyond. For millions of individuals worldwide, the Green Card represents an opportunity to build a new life in the United States, contributing to the diversity and cultural richness of the country.

In summary, the history of the Green Card reflects not only changes in immigration policies but also the evolution of a nation that continues to welcome people from all parts of the world in search of a better future.


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